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essay about authorbibliographyartist's influences
MARIJAN JEVŠOVAR
country
Ex Yugoslavia
period
1946-1968

The art of Marijan Jevšovar is punctuated by his association with Gorgona (1959 -1966). Gorgona was a group of outstanding individuals who reflected the influences of Eastern philosophy, existentialism and absurdity, characteristic for the European spiritual climate of times. According to art critic Nena Dimitrijevic, "emptiness and monotony as an aesthetic category," marked Gorgona's state of mind. Group members were connected through "the process of spiritual and intellectual freedom, the exercise of which is self explanatory". That motto was present in every aspect of their actions.

Jevšovar's art practice was defined from its very beginnings by choosing a different, unconventional painting procedure, the quest for a true and not a beautiful painting, as well as the desire to communicate the sheer energy captured in the process of transferring paint onto canvas. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1946, and two years of specialization with prof Marino Tartaglia, Jevšovar spent two years in Paris (1954 -1956) where he saw and was strongly influenced by the paintings of Jan Dubuffet. In his search for his personal style Jevšovar visited galleries and museums in Paris concluding that, in comparison with the Croatian context of strict official rules and guidelines, the Parisian art scene represented a "return to freedom".

Between 1960 – 1962 his understanding of painting as "the negation of form and contamination of surface" was realized  in the painting Grey Surface. During those two years Jevšovar continuously painted over the same image, creating a painting that was simultaneously a negation of traditionally understood image, and the affirmation of the creative processes whose ultimate goal was anti-painting. Such a quest for the zero-degree painting i.e. spiritual merger of nihilism and Zen, was typical for so-called Gorgona's spirit and their philosophy dominated by the principles of existence, and not of action; process, and not results. According to this philosophy, Jevšovar, as stated by Nena Dimitrijevic, had "consciously, deliberately degraded the surface" and clearly, in his own words, had "contaminated surface”. 

During the sixties, besides the analysis of gray and white surfaces, Jevšovar made drawings such as Perfect Form and Circle From All Sides, which expressed the same tendency toward the absurd. In the early seventies a visible development occured in his work. Instead of long-term "exhaustion of the surface," caused by the constant painting of gray tones on canvas resulting in enformel like surfaces, Jevšovar commenced to deny image by applying simple, free brush strokes on canvas. His palette was also shifting away from neutral gray tones and became much broader, almost vivid. Yet Jevšovar remained consistent in degrading image to anti-image, using color only as a new level of "contamination" and not for creation of beautiful compositions. The source of Jevšovar's procedure was knowledge that matter, in this case canvas and paint, reflects the mental processes and energy of the creator. Universal communication of such energy is the ultimate goal of art.

Marijan Jevšovar was born in Zagreb in 1922. Besides his painting, he was an accomplished graphic designer, specialized in books and posters. He died in 1998 in Zagreb.

J. Bubaš

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